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The Good Earth (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Sep 15 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Oprah's Book Club edition (Sept. 15 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272935
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272933
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Boston Transcript" One need never have lived in China or know anything about the Chinese to understand it or respond to its appeal.

About the Author

Pearl S. Buck was born on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia.Pearl began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930. John Day's publisher, Richard Walsh, would eventually become Pearl's second husband, in 1935, after both received divorces.In 1931, John Day published Pearl's second novel, The Good Earth. This became the bestselling book of both 1931 and 1932, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Howells Medal in 1935, and would be adapted as a major MGM film in 1937. In 1938, less than a decade after her first book had appeared, Pearl won the Nobel Prize in literature, the first American woman to do so. By the time of her death in 1973, Pearl had published more than seventy books: novels, collections of stories, biography and autobiography, poetry, drama, children's literature, and translations from the Chinese. She is buried at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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It was Wang Lung's marriage day. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By michellesiew on Jan. 1 2013
Format: Paperback
I first read "The Good Earth" when I was a teenager. I vividly remember the feelings of profound sadness as I turned the pages, reading about O-Lan's interminable sufferings. She was sold from slavery into an arranged marriage, did back-breaking labour on her husband's farm, lived through drought and famine and the loss of her children. Even after O-Lan's husband achieved wealth and success, he turned to drinking, gambling and womanizing. The question is: how did O-Lan actually perceive her life? Did her stoicism originate from resignation to fate (acquired from growing up as a family slave)? Or did O-Lan have true grit, an undomitable will to survive and endless hope that the future can only be better?

I believe Pearl S. Buck was mostly accurate in her portrayal of life in China in the early 20th century. What she described in her books matched the stories told to me by my grandmother, who had spent part of her childhood in China prior to WWII.

There is no happy ending to this story for O-Lan, but make no mistake - she is the true heroine in this novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Mcisaac on June 3 2010
Format: Paperback
THE GOOD EARTH, Pearl Buck, Washington Sq. Press, 1931, pp357

This novel should be read before SONS which is a continuation of The Good Earth. Pearl lived in China a great deal of her life and what she writes in her novels reveals much about Chinese life in the early 1900's. This novel is about Wang Lung, a very poor farmer who ekes out a living from his meagre land which barely sustains him and his father. He is about to be married.
His life is arduous and totally dependent on what he produces from the land. He represents the utterly poor of China and through Pearl's first-hand knowledge, we get glimpses of how gruesome life must have been. The story centres around Wang and his children as they grow up and the father's hopes for each. He recognizes and values that it is the land which sustains them, and he continues to buy any available. Unfortunately, as he gains in wealth, he and the children lose sight of the source of this wealth and the further removed from the land they become, the more serious the consequences: 'Land is one's flesh and blood.' (p. 52)
Even if one loves the land however, one is subject to the whims of nature and man's interference. So we experience such hardships as backbreaking work and hours, storms, floods, drought, grasshoppers and wars. The good years and harvests are rewarding but the hardships mean life and death. Pearl doesn't invent these hardships ' millions of Chinese starved to death and millions more died due to robbers, lords of war and rebellions. She alludes to most of these.
Wang's first love is the land but as they age, the children distract him away. We get glimpses of the rich man's life, his servants, his way of life and his abundant choice foods.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Sakazaki on Jan. 27 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having heard that Ms. Buck spent most of her life in China, I began reading The Good Earth expecting an authentic, albeit fictional, portrayal of life in China in the early 1900s. The first half of the story begins in this way. Protagonist Wang Lung, in his early years of marriage and family life, represents the honest, hard-working farming peasant immersed in a man vs. nature struggle for existence and, to a lesser extent, a man vs. society challenge of social positioning. Through Wang and his wife, O-lan's, courage and strife, we see a society of contrasts: simplicity of rural life vs. luxury of city life in turn-of-the-century China, years of abundant harvests vs. occasions of widespread famine, traditional roles favoring men over women, rich landowning "great houses" vs. poor laborers and slaves, Confucian work ethic vs. idleness.
About halfway through the novel, there is a transition in both literary style and thematic content. Once Wang Lung rises to wealth, his problems become more complex. Behind the story's events, the grand themes of literature rapidly unfold: inner turmoil in relationships between men and women, husband and wife, and father, sons and grandchildren; one's destiny and duty vs. the sense of freedom that wealth and achievement bring; emotional and generational conflicts resulting from changing social values in a modernizing world; lifelong friendship and the loneliness in old age. By the end of the novel, with traditional Wang ever so fervently tied to his land while his forward-looking sons devise to sell it, the simple story about a Chinese peasant's life has fully blossomed into an epic tale about real people having truly universal appeal.
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By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 17 2010
Format: Audio CD
Published in 1931, this story is set in rural, pre-revolution China. Author Pearl S. Buck was born in the United States but moved with her family to China while she was still an infant. She lived most of her first forty years in China.

This book tells the story of a poor farmer named Wang Lung. He wants to marry, yet doesn't have to money for a match maker. His father goes to the local wealthy family, the House of Hwang, and asks for a slave to be the wife for his son.

From his wedding day forward, the fortunes of Wang and his new wife O-Lan change, mostly for the better. Not only does O-Lan run the house most efficiently, she also helps with the old father and with the farming. Two sets of hands in the fields lead to increased crop yields and money.

As I was listening to this audio book, I wondered if Mrs. Buck had accurately presented the lives of farmers in China at that time. Several reviews that I checked confirm my impressions.

Spoiler Alert

The other thing that struck me about this book was how the author was able to portray the desperation of the people during the various hardships. The stoic acceptance by O-Lan of the death of her second daughter, born during the drought. I couldn't imagine what Wang went through when he took his newborn daughter from O-Lan, knowing that he would have to let her die so the rest of them could survive, but I could feel his anguish.

Alert Over

I loved this book. It didn't matter that it was published almost 80 years ago. It still came across as fresh material and still relevant. There are still many areas of this world where people farm and try to eke out a living.

Blackstone Audio produced this audio book in 2007. It was read by Anthony Heald. Mr. Heald has a very enjoyable reading voice and it added to my enjoyment.
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